Apr 26, 2011 10:51 PM by Maddie Garrett
A jail maintenance tax will return to the ballot in St. Landry Parish Saturday, April 30th. The tax had been on the books for the past 30 years, but voters didn't renew it last fall.
Every ten years the people of St. Landry Parish are asked to renew a one-mill jail maintenance tax, but last year voters turned it down.
"Parish government has been robbing peter to pay paul in the last year to find the money to pay the light bill, to pay the food bill. They've made some cuts in clothing, they've made some cuts in other areas and they can't continue to keep doing that," said Sheriff Bobby Guidroz.
Without the nearly half a million dollars the jail tax brought in, Parish leaders have been struggling this past year to find the money to keep the jail running. The State of Louisiana mandates that parish governments fund jail facility maintenance, which includes everything from electricity to inmate care and keeping up with fire codes.
All of those costs add up and the St. Landry Parish will have to find the money somewhere if not from the tax.
"Without it we're going to have to make cuts elsewhere in the budget that we simply can't afford," said Parish President Don Menard.
Menard and Guidroz were surprised when such an important -- but relatively small -- tax was voted out last fall after 30 years. They believe voters may have been confused about what jail tax was for.
"A lot of people are under the misconception that this tax, this jail maintenance tax April 30th, is to build another jail. Not true," said Guidroz.
Menard agreed, saying the Parish Government could have been more clear about the jail maintenance tax in the last election.
"We may not have done a good enough job promoting the tax and promoting the reasons why we needed this. This is simply, it is to operate the jail as a jail facility and it is to maintain the building that is over 30 years old," explained Menard.
If voters still don't show support for the jail maintenance tax this time around the funding will be pulled from other Parish services.
Also on the ballot in St. Landry Saturday:
-A 6.43-mill tax renewal for Fire District 3
-A 14.37-mill tax renewal for road and bridge maintenance in Port Barre
-A 9.34-mill tax renewal for Gravity Drainage District 1
Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday.